Philippine exporters brace for tougher times ahead

MANILA, October 19, 2008 (AFP) – The Philippines has so far escaped relatively unscathed from the global financial crisis, but its export industries are bracing themselves for tougher times ahead, analysts say. While orders for the remainder of the year still look healthy, exporters fear that going forward into 2009 the outlook might not be so rosy, especially if the United States slips into recession as expected.

The export sector is hugely important for the Southeast Asian nation, accounting for about 45 per cent of its economy.

Philippine exports last year rose 6.1 percent to 50.3 billion dollars and the government expects growth of about 5.0 percent this year.

But in 2009 exports are expected to see zero to 4.0 percent growth, according to the government’s own Development Budget Coordination Committee.

The Philippines’ main exports are electronic components used by manufacturers overseas to produce finished products from computers to washing machines.

Last year they comprised more than half of all exports, with the main destination being the United States.

“If the major component of Philippine exports is electronics and if the biggest users are the Americans and they